When one thinks of preparing for the inevitability of death, they often think of a Last Will and Testament. A will, however, is only one part of comprehensive estate planning; even the best will can only cover so much. Then there’s the vast world of quick, DIY online wills, a litany of disasters waiting to happen. Too often, these at-home wills omit critical details, incite family disputes, or are declared outright invalid. If you’re considering an online will to cut costs and time, you may want to think twice.
What is a Will?
A will is legally recognized document outlining your end-of-life wishes and the distributions of your assets. It designates who will manage your estate and, if you have underage children, who will act as their guardian.
Are Online Wills Enough?
In today’s technological era of convenience, endless do-it-yourself will services have popped-up online. We’ve seen advertisements touting everything from “make a will in less than 10 minutes,” to “make your will while waiting at the airport.” These will services generally offer fill-in-the-blank type forms completed on your laptop or even your phone. A generic will just cannot accurately represent your unique family and situation!
These services can also leave you uneducated about the many aspects of a will. Without an expert present, it can be difficult at best to understand the dense language of the document. When navigating the legalese with minimal to no guidance, ensuring the legality and precision of a will can be near impossible. With your house, car, possessions, accounts, pets, and even your children hanging in the balance, it is not the best time to play a guessing game.
A professional will, meanwhile, is expertly crafted. It ensures one’s end-of-life wishes, offering solutions and protection. At Susan Hunt Law, we always take the time to thoroughly explain your will’s articles, ensuring the final product is airtight and accurate, accomplishing your estate planning goals.
Every state has different laws determining the validity of a will. Marriages and divorces may affect a will in some states, while others may dispute the witnesses or interpretation of wording.
An invalid will results in one’s assets being distributed according to the state’s intestacy laws instead of per the individual’s instructions. An incomplete, unclear, or invalid will means your kids could end up in the care of strangers, even if just temporarily, and your family’s relationships could suffer as assets are disputed.
Remember, it is the people you love who will deal with the consequences of a hasty will. If you have ever had a loved one die without their affairs in order, you know first-hand what a devastating experience this can be. Check out this excellent article by Forbes. In making her case against DIY wills, the author shares numerous stories detailing what can go wrong and how.
The Bottom Line
While DIY will campaigns can be alluring, promising convenience, speed, and discounts, they often fail to deliver the protection you and your family deserve. And the time and money saved upfront? It tends to come at the expense of your loved ones after you pass. There are times when speed rules supreme and DIY projects are great—drafting your will is not one of them.
A thorough, comprehensive will allows your family to grieve your passing in peace and out of the courthouse. One of the pillars of our estate planning philosophy is that one size does not fit all; every individual and family is unique, and their estate plan should reflect this. The first step of our estate planning process is to meet with our clients one-on-one to discuss their needs and wishes, designing a customized plan to cover all circumstances.
Making the Right Decision
If you have been considering creating your will online, you may want to rethink. While some online wills are better than nothing, many only lead to further complications and costs. Think about your situation. How large is your estate? How complicated are your assets, your family, and your end of life wishes? The more complex your situation, the more imperative it is to avoid creating an easy will online.
Even if your situation is fairly simple and you have few assets at stake, an online or DIY will can still do more harm than good. Before choosing the quick option, do your research. Look up the online company’s reviews, read client testimonies, and educate yourself on common issues. Is an online will really the right decision for you? If you have any doubts, schedule a complimentary Family Wealth Planning Session with us instead. We will empower you to make the right decisions for you and your loved ones and create the plan your family deserves.